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11/04/2010

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Mike Boehmer

Very helpful information. I learned the value of my involvement in a professional association (PRSA) years ago when I was laid off in a previous downturn. Over the years, I've found that networking and attending events by PRSA, Cincinnati Social Media, New Media Cincinnati, AMA and others pays dividends for my employer -- as I'm able to innovate at work and implement best practices based on what I've learned from my professional friends and associates.

Jennifer McClure

You've provided some great tips here based upon your own experience Kevin!

My advice would include approaching your career transition as a full-time job and managing your activities in that way. How about creating a project plan with time scheduled for networking activities, professional development, personal branding efforts (on-line and offline)? I'm always impressed with a job seeker who can articulate how they have approached their job search in an strategic and focused way. That helps me to see past their period of unemployment and begin to see how they would approach their work.

Unfortunately, it's easy to flounder in a job search because many people aren't prepared for it (I wasn't either when it happened to me a few years ago) and because it's something they are unfamiliar with, they don't attack it as they would a typical work problem. In my experience, those who create a plan, hold themselves accountable to it and connect with others who can encourage them are able to be much more positive in their job search (they are being "successful" in sticking to their plan) and are therefore, much more attractive candidates.

Thanks for sharing what you learned during your own transition!

Kevin Dugan

Mike: Great point about the value it brings your employer. I think far too often continuing education and networking like this is not framed up in this light enough. It's more -- you pay me to work and you pay to keep learning via this stuff. More of an employee benefit than an employer benefit. It's both.

Jennifer: Great point about it being a full-time job and managing that job in the way you noted. Applying tools like a project plan are smart -- especially since the nature of networking can seem so abstract at times. And all the tools are available online, for free. You just need Internet.

Great adds. Thanks everyone!

Carolyn Pione Micheli

It seems like a lot of people are turned off by "networking" because they see it as work. But if you go into it thinking about how you can be helpful to others, it is a lot more interesting and less self-serving. And a geniune interest in other people builds real relationships.

I heard a LinkedIn expert last year talking about when to expend "social capital" -- how to use your connections to help others. When there is mutual benefit in connecting others, everyone wins.

Like Kevin, I had my own well-publicized transition (i.e., I wrote about it in a column when I left the Enquirer). It took me three months to find my wonderful current job. It can be scary and it can be hard to stay positive. I just suggest not being afraid to ask for help.

And then remember to give back when you get to the other side of it (which you will!)

Bowtieandy

The recession hit as i was in my junior year of college. Having majored in Urban Planning and Economics, I was basically up the proverbial creek with no paddle. Realistically, I would have been more employable having a felony conviction for selling crack, at least I would have some work experience. The long and short of it was that outstanding grades and achievements was no match for the two worst majors following the burst of the housing bubble.

What did I do? I turned my to hobby of web development, coupled with all the graphics skills I had learned, and all my connections into an actual business. Using the lens of an urban planner worked out well, it lent some cool stuff like a traffic engineers algorithm as a way to determine with whom to interact on sites like Twitter.

The recession lesson that I would pass on would be this: be resilient. Take your hobbies, passions, interests, and educational/professional background and roll it into one giant package. At the end of the day, what I found that is really important, which nobody can duplicate, is what we are able to intuit under a given circumstance. Like the Dr. Seuss quote, "you are you, now isn't that pleasant," suggests - do what you do, have fun, and make some money in the process.

Kevin Dugan

Carolyn: Not being afraid to ask for help is huge. And if you've been helping others vs. networking, odds are good they'll help without you asking. It's a good cycle to get into.

Andy: Passion. It's the one-word secret to a lot of challenges like this. But it reads like you turned this into an opportunity -- in hindsight of course.

Resilience and sticking to your gut instinct is critical. It can get to you after awhile.

And quoting Dr. Seuss? Bonus.

Thanks to both of you for sharing your stories.

BenjaminMcCall

Thanks for including me in the conversation. I will say that the analogy of the job search "being like a death in the family" is very telling and true. Everyone does handle it differently. Sadly many people I know use that question about "where do you work" as a way to flood anyone who is listening in a plead for help. This can be very uncomfortable.
I don't like making anyone or myself feeling that way.

The best approach people can take toward their own search is to treat their network they have and build as organic. You have to be in the hunt but long before you hunt you have to be farming months before to make it work.
Being active, intimate and visible is another great approach. People want to help people who are genuine. But if you are only their for selfish reasons never to be seen again, it makes it harder for people to "want" to help you.
I wish everyone the best and thanks again Kevin!

http://ReThinkHR.org
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